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How a glamorous fraudster who was part of an international syndicate scammed vulnerable older Aussies in a $3 million scam
- Jasmine Vella-Arpaci, 24, is the only conspirator charged with the fraud
- She was part of an international syndicate of fraudsters targeting super funds
- The group stole millions from Australian retirement and sharing accounts
- A fraud victim said she endured a nightmare of fear and sleepless nights
After her father’s accidental death, the mother of a Melbourne woman started a small family business to secure the financial future of her children and grandchildren.
But the daughter had to fight to save the company when it was targeted by an international syndicate of fraudsters who stole millions from Australian pensions and shared bills.
She felt herself a fraud as she tried to convince companies that she was the real shareholder.
Jasmine Vella-Arpaci, 24, is the only conspirator charged in the fraud that led the group to acquire more than $3 million from retirement accounts and $238,000 from stock trading.
Jasmine Vella-Arpaci, 24, (pictured) was part of an international fraud syndicate that stole millions from Australian pensions and bills
They also sought to obtain $1.8 million from super funds and $5.7 million in stocks.
More than $2.5 million was then laundered through Hong Kong, with Vella-Arpaci receiving a cryptocurrency discount.
The woman who tried to save her family business told a hearing before Vella-Arpaci on Wednesday that she went through a nightmare of fear and sleepless nights after being warned about an attempt to sell all of the company’s shares.
She is eternally grateful to the stock broker for checking the legality of the sale.
Vella-Arpaci (pictured, during a break outside the County Court of Victoria) pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud separate pension and stock trading fraud, and of conspiracy to trade in proceeds of crime
The woman, who cannot be identified, believes her identity papers were obtained through her accountants. They charged her $750 when she made an appointment to warn them of a data breach.
“It felt like every step I took led to more punishment for me and nothing to stop the major highway the fraudsters were driving along,” she said.
Vella-Arpaci pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud separate pension and stock trading fraud, and of conspiracy to trade in proceeds of crime.
She was involved in a phishing scam to access an account credentials and bought others on the dark web. She targeted companies with administrator, HR, or accountant usernames, hoping they would give her access to retirement account details and identification documents.
Vella-Arpaci described accounts for those eligible for entry as the “ultimate jackpot.”
Police found 1,400 documents on her seized computer, including passports, driver’s licenses, debit cards and Medicare cards.
She admitted to manipulating identification documents to change names or dates of birth and then stamping them with a false certification stamp.
That data was used to withdraw money from accounts and arrange for stocks to be sold, with the proceeds deposited into newly opened bank accounts.
Vella-Arpaci, 24, (pictured outside Victoria County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday) is the only conspirator charged in the fraud
Debit cards were sent to fake addresses and were used by people in Hong Kong to launder the proceeds.
Vella-Arpaci was arrested in April 2019.
Her role in the conspiracy was significant, Victorian court judge Fiona Todd was told.
During a trip to Turkey, Vella-Arpaci recruited someone to fill her role and gave advice on taking precautions when posting documents.
“Always take the time to get it right — a day in the post is less than a life sentence,” she said.
The hearing for the sentence continues on November 30. Vella-Arpaci is out on bail.